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The Ultimate Safari Packing List: What to Pack for your African Safari

Packing for your Safari

So, you’ve booked your flights, you’ve picked out your hotels, and you’ve carefully negotiated the best price and itinerary for your trip.

You’ve had your vaccinations for Africa, made a checklist of animals you want to photograph, and bought that all-important travel insurance for your safari.

Now comes the hard part: figuring out what to pack for your once-in-a-lifetime safari adventure.

As always, the Shadows of Africa team has your back.

Below, you’ll not only find a complete list of the safari essentials you’ll need to pack, but also a guide on what kind of clothes to bring for the different times of year.

Of course, if we’ve missed anything here, don’t hesitate to contact us or ask your safari expert for their advice.

What to Pack for Your Safari

Packing for your first safari can be a bit daunting. What do you bring? What don’t you need? Below you’ll find our recommended list of things to bring along with you when you’re on safari.

  • A backpack

While there is plenty of room in our safari vehicles for your larger suitcase, it’s always handy to have a more manageable bag that you can have with you in the vehicle.

  • A warm sweater or light fleece

Nights and mornings in East Africa can be cold, so it’s always good to have something a little warmer to throw on until the sun warms the plains up.

You can check below for a better idea of what to wear on safari.

  • A windbreaker or waterproof jacket

You never know when there’s going to be a sudden squall or downpour, so packing a lightweight rain jacket is a good idea.

While you’ll be safe and dry inside your safari vehicle, a rain jacket is a good option for when you’re getting about camp.

  • Walking shoes or boots

Much of your safari takes place within your safari vehicle, but you’ll need a comfortable pair of shoes or hiking boots for walking to your lodges, snapping photos from the picnic spot, or if you’ve added any walking safaris to your itinerary.

Even in the car, you’ll want a pair of comfortable shoes that cover your skin to prevent against sunburn and insect bites.

  • A long sleeve dress shirt and trousers

Perfect for both sun protection and to ward off hungry mosquitoes, a long sleeve shirt and trousers are also a good option for a cold morning or evening.

If you’re staying in nicer lodges, you’ll also wants these handy for dinner and drinks at the end of a long day.

  • Sunglasses

The sun in East Africa can be quite intense, so sunglasses are a good protective measure andhave the benefit of reducing glare while you’re game-viewing.

  • Hat

Sun protection should be a priority while you’re on safari. While your vehicle provides shade, having the top up for game-viewing means you’ll be exposed to the elements.

A good hat is a great way to avoid nasty burns or heatstroke.

  • Sunscreen and lip balm

Another valuable precaution against the often harsh equatorial sun, sunscreen and lip balm will protect you where your clothes don’t.

  • Insect repellent

Mosquitoes and tsetse flies are both capable of carrying diseases and their bites can be quite irritating or painful. Tsetse flies can deliver a particularly nasty sting.

A good insect repellent is a good way to ward off these blood-thirsty little guys.

  • Camera

It goes without saying that you’re going to want a camera for your safari adventure. While in some cases your smart phone will be enough to snap a shot, a camera with a good zoom lens is the perfect companion.

  • Binoculars

Shadows of Africa vehicles come standard with a single pair of binoculars that you can share with your driver, but having your own pair is a good way to ensure you don’t miss a second of the action.

You don’t need an expensive pair. Even a travel-sized pair of binoculars is sufficient for game-viewing.

  • Batteries and/or charger for your camera

You don’t want to be midway through a day on safari and suddenly run out of battery for your camera.

Shadows of Africa vehicles come standard with in-car charging stations, but it’s always a good idea to travel with an additional battery.

Additional SD cards are also a good idea to ensure you don’t need to stop to delete photos.

  • A flashlight or headlamp

The wilderness can be pretty dark, so a headlamp or flashlight can be essential when moving about camp after dark.

Many lodges provide these, but those staying in budget camps will want to bring their own.

  • Guide books

You don’t need a hefty Lonely Planet for your safari, but having a wilderness guidebook is a good way to build a ‘to do list’ for your trip.

Your Shadows of Africa driver is a font of knowledge when it comes to animal, bird, and plant-life too. Don’t hesitate to ask questions!

  • Phone and charger

Whether it’s to stay in touch, to share your photos, or just so you can snap pictures on the fly – bringing along your smart phone is a good idea.

Savvy travelers may wish to purchase a local SIM card, but many hotels have WiFi.

While on safari in Tanzania, our vehicles also come with WiFi, although this is dependent on location.

  • A good book

You’ll rarely find yourself without something to see while on safari, but there is going to be some downtime.

Whether it’s the drive to or from the airport or just a lazy night at your lodge, having a good book (or a Kindle) on hand is a great way to pass the time.

  • Tissues/Wet Wipes

While all national parks and lodges have toilet facilities available, there’s no telling when nature might call and you’ll need to make use of the famous ‘bush toilet’.

Having a packet of tissues or wet wipes in your pack is always a good idea.

Medical Essentials

While all of our Shadows of Africa vehicles have their own on board first aid kit, it never hurts to be prepared.

You might wish to consider the below list and figure out which medications you’d like to bring along for your trip. We’ve highlighted those we think are most essential in italics.

  • Anti-malarial medication;
  • Painkillers;
  • Antihistamines for allergies and insect bites;
  • Cold and flu medication;
  • Anti-Diarrhea medication;
  • Medicines for re-hydration after diarrhea or sunstroke;
  • Eye drops;
  • Moisturizer for treating sunburn;
  • Antiseptic lotion;
  • Rubbing alcohol;
  • Bandages and plasters;
  • Scissors;
  • Tweezers.

If you’re planning to climb Kilimanjaro or do some hiking, you may also wish to bring along water purification tablets.

All of our safari clients are provided with 1.5L of drinking water per day.

Don’t let the above list daunt you. Many of these items are only necessary in extreme cases, but it’s better to have something and not need it than it is to need something and not have it!